Guest Post: Speaking of Association

This post originally appeared on my erratically-tended-to blog, are for use. It was posted February 7th in a slightly longer version with the title “doing my everything“. Comments are always welcome, and if you have any talking points that will help me to convince grads that association is in fact the bee’s knees, please add them here or drop me a line at tamahoc at gmail dot com.

this winter semester i have scaled back to one course: advanced oral communications. unfortunately there is nothing advanced about my oral communication skills, and i am feeling like a cat at sea with my ‘speeches’ (aka, impromptu ramblings based on ideas which have flown the coop of my head as soon as i stand in front of my university peers). i have my second presentation next week and decided it might be wise to lower myself to baser methods — such as preparing a script and practicing it — as i attempt to speak fluently and confidently on the reasons why graduating library tech students should join and participate in their professional association.

this is not idle rhetoric — i am super passionate about association. association is a support network, a forum for new ideas, a community of colleagues who are not necessarily work-mates, and an organisation that supports lifelong learning in the profession once academia has had its way with us. i would be remiss in my advocacy duties if i didn’t mention that the library association is also a great network for ladies’ bowling and beer nights. while i love the bowling, it comes in at a close second for all-time reason to sign up: above all, association is a preventative against future boredom.

prior to my life as a library tech the longest i had been at any one job was about a year. the one year anniversary was an epic milestone which would provoke shrieks of fear in my soul and a strong urge to quit said job and move to another country asap (a whim to which i gave in more than once). i am older and calmer now, but not so calm as to think nothing of signing myself up for a career which may prove lifelong. it is a big commitment, and not unlike getting married …which i suppose makes association like ‘date night’ in my ltr with the library? i need it to keep things spicy.

as a technician, having a network for professional development and community is especially important. for ml(i)s librarians there are established norms that recognise the importance of a network for professional development opportunities. for techs however, while the librarians are away at conference we are the ones who run the library. our work positions are more about make-it-happen than about dream-and-scheme, but the dream and scheme piece is so important to me! i need to learn and communicate. i am really happy with my career, but i am also only a couple of years into it and i know this is still officially the honeymoon period. i have little doubt of my capacity for discontent if the going gets too repetitive, so i am bulking up my professional life now with extra education (in the form of a bgs) and lots of professional association projects. there was a time when i thought i would be happy doing less, but i have realised that i am truly happy doing more.

just like we can’t expect our partners to be our everything, i cannot expect my on-call library tech job to be my library-everything. while i have no doubt as to the value of association, i have come face to face with the reality that many of my peers are indifferent to developing community. and since i cannot have a community or a network without a bunch of other people, i am going to have to hone my speaking skills and get persuasive. beyond my class presentation i have promised to speak some inspiring words in march when we host the first ltaig speed-mentoring event for students and alumni of my alma mater, ufv’s library tech program. am i nervous? hells yes. but i am hoping that the necessity of the situation will force me to get good at public speaking. otherwise it is going to be one boring and lonely association…

2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Speaking of Association

  1. Having been one of those people that constantly advocates and encourages one to “speak up”, I commend your efforts. You are filling an incredible need and, in doing so, you set an example for others and show that it is not so scary to speak up. Congratulations and celebrate your initiative. You do us all proud.

  2. Hear, hear! I second Christina’s comment that you do us proud.
    I’m also a fervent believer in associations. It’s important to have all of our voices heard. When an association only has a few ‘active’ members it is inevitable that some people will feel they are not represented and avoid it. The best way to be heard is to be your own representative as you likely aren’t the only one that thinks or feels the way you do. Or get in contact with someone who is involved (yes, it can be scary contacting someone new but we won’t bite).
    We are fortunate that in today’s society we have technology that allows us to take part more readily than in the past. This is great for those who are not able to take what they think might be considered an ‘active’ part or for those who are concerned that they might wind up doing something that they don’t feel comfortable doing. Being a member doesn’t mean that you have to be an executive member or take part in a committee of some sort. Reading the posts and responding to surveys, etc. are two of the ways to be involved and they are equally important. LTAIG is making use of technology that is enabling people at home or work to be present at their meetings.
    Associations are important to professions such as ours where the learning doesn’t stop when our schooling is done. The Association should and can be a way to help continue that through workshops, networking or imparting information that will educate or even entertain us.
    The social aspect of an association is important, especially for new technicians. Associations and the information they impart are a way for us to be aware of what’s going on in the technician’s world. The field we work in is not always the most stable work place. The knowledge gained from colleagues who work in areas that are different, either by geography or customer base, can be helpful not just for jobs but to be able to discuss how you deal with issues from budgets to clients. We can find out what has worked and what didn’t or simply get another opinion as to what might work. Or we’ll find out about another great bookstore, website or database at the next bowling night.

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